Normally I like to start out articles with a whimsical introduction but there’s no time for that. Here’s where Indiana stands at the dawn of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Bracket Matrix has them as the Second Team Out, with bracketologists putting them anywhere between a 9 and 12-seed, but not in large enough numbers to break into the field. Indiana has become a Rorschach test for fans and résumé evaluators alike, you can see what you want to see. You can point to their winter swoon where they lost 12 of 13 to end up with 14 losses overall, or you can argue that none of the losses were all that bad and Indiana picked up more impressive wins than anyone else on the bubble.
One bracketologist (who, incidentally, holds a degree from Purdue) is of the belief that Indiana must finish 4 games over .500 in order to get a bid, which is not based on any stated criteria but instead on the idea that it hasn’t happened before.
NOTE: “Well it hasn’t happened before, probably won’t happen now.” is a very amusing axiom to apply to any situation.
But the implication of that thought process is that Indiana must beat Ohio State on Thursday and then can only get into the tournament if they beat Michigan State for a third time on Friday. That’s nonsense. Even with a loss on Friday, the Hoosiers would hold a 2-1 record over the conference’s best team, to hold them out for not going 3-0 would be absurd. To me, there is but one conclusion we can draw:
If Indiana beats Ohio State on Thursday they will be in the NCAA Tournament.
Clemson and North Carolina State are in a similar position later on today. Both teams are currently just above the aggregate cut line on Bracket Matrix, and both are in desperate need of a good win to shine up a résumé that is sorely lacking in them. I think equation is fairly simple for the committee: the winner of Clemson/NCST stays in the bracket while the loser drops out, replaced by the winner of Indiana and Ohio State tomorrow.
That’s it. That’s the equation. I don’t believe the rest of the bubble-related action is going to change Indiana’s circumstances. The Hoosiers need to survive and advance past the Buckeyes for the opportunity to survive and advance.
It’s tournament time.